PARIS (Jan. 13)
A Shiite terrorist group in Lebanon announced Monday that it “executed” another Jewish hostage, Yehouda Benesti, 70. He is believed to be the ninth Lebanese Jew murdered by the group which calls itself “The Organization of the Oppressed (Mustadafin) in the World.”
He is also believed to be the father of two other murdered Jewish hostages; Ibrahim Benesti, 34, who was killed on February 15, 1986, and Youssuf Benesti, 33, murdered on December 30, 1986.
The exact identity and relationship of the victims is not entirely clear because there is no organized Jewish community in Beirut. Jewish organizations here have only sketchy documentation on missing Jews believed taken hostage.
The Mustadafin said it executed its latest victim because of his activities “on behalf of Israeli intelligence.” It released a photograph of an elderly bald-headed man with a well-trimmed white beard.
According to the group’s announcements, 10 Lebanese Jews were taken prisoner during the last 20 months and nine have been killed. Only three bodies have been recovered, however. Those were identified as Haim Cohen, 38, kidnapped on March 30, 1985 and murdered on December 24, 1985; Isaac Tarrab, 70, murdered in late December 1985; and Ibrahim Benesti.
The French Jewish community has appealed to the French government and to President Amin Gemayel of Lebanon to try to secure the release of Jewish hostages still alive and the return of the bodies of those put to death. Shiite gangs are presently holding 19 French nationals hostage.
Neither the French Government nor Gemayel seems to have influence with the Shiite extremists in Lebanon. Terry Waite, the Englishman representing the Archbishop of Canterbury in trying to secure the release of hostages in Lebanon, has intervened on behalf of the Jewish victims, so far without success.
He told a press conference in Beirut Monday night that he was also trying to act on behalf of Israeli prisoners of war in the hands of various groups in Lebanon but could do nothing unless Israel “stops bombing (south Lebanon) and opens the way to a peaceful solution” in that region.
Shiites claiming to speak for the Mustadafin were quoted as saying they would return the bodies of the slain Lebanese Jews only if Israel releases Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in custody of the Israel-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA).